Life lessons appear when you least expect them to. One minute you’re rushing across the platform to catch the train, and poof – out of nowhere appears a life lesson. Unexpectedly, you might realize that the lesson has arrived in the form of a 30-something-year -old man who is refusing to make room for an elderly woman to sit down on the train. It’s almost like if he doesn’t sit with his legs wide apart, taking up as much space as possible, then he is no longer a man.
Now this scenario isn’t my first time witnessing hyper-masculinity at its finest and shining moment, but it certainly made it current in my mind. Right here on the R-line local train, I was reminded, along with all of the other passengers on the train, of the fragility of the masculine state.
As a man, I cannot even fathom how simply making room for someone on a busy commute feminizes you. I view making room for someone, elderly or not, as a sign that any “man” would show to all. It is quite simple, or at least for me anyways; real men are courteous and respectful.
But I have to remember that sadly not all who identify as men have come into their own. Most are constantly at war with themselves – and seemingly with society and woman all over the world – just to prove that they are in fact, men.
At this point in my ride on the train, I hear the conductor announce that my stop is next and still, legs taking up as much room as possible, the hyper-masculine man refuses to give up his space.
“What is this guy trying to prove?” I turned the question over in my mind. Is he sub-consciously trying to warn everyone that because he occupies so much space, he shouldn’t be messed with? Is he trying to impress women on the train by insinuating that he must have his legs like this because he is well-endowed?
Whatever the case may be, and I hate to break it to him: no one on this train seems even slightly intimidated or impressed by his behavior. Quite frankly, no one should see this behavior as acceptable, let alone see it as attractive. Male or female, man or woman, or wherever you fall on the gender spectrum, the bottom line is this: treat people the way you would like to be treated.
In a world that is more or less dominated by men, it is up to us men to realize how fragile our hyper-masculine actions make us look. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Men have been at the forefront of societies across the world; we’ve been the ones who set in stone the cultural rules we still follow to this day.
We as “men” have to recognize this, and we have to come to an understanding that hyper-masculine behavior is not okay. Being a man doesn’t mean having sex with as many women as you can. It doesn’t mean that you never can show emotion, nor does masculinity consist of directly disrespecting those around you.
Now every time I find myself on a train, standing in a line, or even walking down the street, I try to make room for others. I understand that security is what we strive for as men. We have to feel comfortable enough in our own skin. Hyper-masculinity is a product of a lack of male security.
If you cannot accept your own sense of identity and masculinity, then no one else will either. That leaves you with only one option: go out and prove to the world that you are more masculine then the next guy.
For all the guys reading this, I just want to point out the fact that masculinity is no competition. It’s super cliche to say, I admit, but we are all different for a reason. Stop over-dramatizing your masculinity. A real man is comfortable in his masculinity without making anyone around him feel uncomfortable or objectified.
Time is of the essence. Become the man you were meant to become, not the one that society has forced you to turn into, because that – in itself – is no true man.